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3 Ways to Safely Clean Tree Sap from your vehicle

Don’t leave it, Clean that Tree Sap ASAP

Here in the Lowcountry, it’s second nature to seek out shaded parking spots, especially as the weather warms. Parking in the shade can be beneficial in keeping the interior temperature of your vehicle a little cooler. But, if you park in the shade provided by a tree, then you may find yourself paying the price of having tree sap on your vehicle. Tree sap is sticky and one of the more harmful substances that can damage the finish on your vehicle. To clean tree sap from your vehicle it can’t just be wiped away without causing further damage.

Tree sap is mostly sugar and water, but it can’t be dissolved with just water. There is something else in tree sap, which you know if you’ve ever used it to start a fire or as waterproofing. And whatever it is in tree sap, you can’t dissolve it with Windex or other glass cleaners.

There are products that you can buy from an auto parts store that will remove tree sap. Better still, there are common household items that you can use to remove tree sap without harming your vehicle’s finish. Keep in mind, anytime that you are using a new product on your vehicle, you want to make sure to test it in a small inconspicuous place first.

First Choice: Rubbing Alcohol

For the best results, use rubbing alcohol, aka isopropyl alcohol, to clean tree sap from your vehicle. Nothing fancy or ridiculously strong, just common alcohol, and you only need a dilute solution for it to work. Put a bit on a paper towel and dab it on. Then, gently wipe the sap off. Take your time, and don’t rub too hard. Any rough moves with any solvent can leave a mark. Let the solvent do the job, not the paper towel and your elbow grease.

Second Choice to clean tree sap: Hand Sanitizer (with a high concentration of Alcohol)

Hand sanitizer can remove tree sap, but you want to make sure to test it on an inconspicuous spot on your car first. This is because hand sanitizers range widely in their ingredients, and the ethyl alcohol can dissolve tree sap. Just make sure to test it first and then wipe gently away.

Third Choice: Margarine or Vegetable Oil

An easy way to remove tree sap from your hands is vegetable oil. This also works on a car. Of the three methods listed here, this one is the least effective. However, because you are likely to have margarine or vegetable oil around the house, you can use this in a pinch if you are out of hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol.

A reminder: many cars have a coating of wax or similar material on the finish. This is from either a hand-wax or a car wash. So if you use any of the above-listed methods, the wax or film will be removed. The remaining spot will look a little dull. All you have to do is touch up the spot with a bit of wax, and it should restore the shine.


Hollingsworth Auto Service is a collision repair facility located in Savannah, Georgia. For over 100 years, we have been building relationships with our customers and have a proven track record of providing quality repairs for generations.

If you are looking for a Savannah auto body shop you can rely on, call Hollingsworth Auto Service today at: 912.234.6651